It was while walking in the Aix countryside as a teenager with Émile Zola that he realized he was an artist. The particular light of Provence guided him on his creative path to the threshold of abstraction. And it is in Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding area that you can share Cezanne’s experience intensely today, as you visit the streets, places and landscapes that marked the life, the outlook and the work of the father of modern painting…Open the door of the Atelier de Cezanne and enter the artist’s private world. Admire a few of his works in the space dedicated to him in the Musée Granet. In the Carrieres de Bibémus, see through Cezanne’s eyes at the Sainte-Victoire.


In 1901, the ageing and increasingly isolated artist bought some land in the Lauves hills. Located on the edge of Aix-en-Provence, nestled within his beloved landscape, he designed and built his studio himself. Its silent, low-key and luminous atmosphere exudes creative intensity. Alone, confronted with himself, this is where Cezanne produced a number of monumental works, such as The Large Bathers. These final years of his life were to be the most fructuous. The studio provided new sources of inspiration, but for Cezanne it was above all a "haven of beauty". A sacred place where his entire being yearned to discover the artistic grail.  A place of study and contemplation, sparsely furnished, his studio housed a handful of objects which the artist found useful. A pot of ginger, a Cupid statue, a collection of skulls which appear in his last still life paintings. The olive pot is depicted in 22 of his works. For Cezanne, these objects which he used as models held a secret. He believed that, for those who could see it: “A sugar bowl can teach us as much about ourselves and our art as a Chardin...” or “the day will come when the innocent observation of a carrot will start a revolution”. Today, a number of these objects sit on the shelves, still vibrant from the painter’s gaze. A little further, his presence is suggested by an easel and the artist’s gabardine. Upon leaving the Studio, close by, is the Chemin de la Marguerite, a headland offering a breathtaking view of the Sainte-Victoire mountain. Works painted at this spot have been reproduced and are displayed here. 

Terrain des peintres
15 minutes walking from Cezanne’s studio. Paul Cezanne’s favourite vista of Sainte-Victoire Mountain. The queen of his childhood landscapes, and the obsession of his life as an artist, the Sainte-Victoire Mountain dominates the painter’s work: 44 oil paintings and 43 water-colors of it are conserved in the world’s great museums and in private collections.
A treasure of Cezanne’s heritage. Bibémus is an impressive mineral architectural site chiselled from repeted extraction over centuries (from Roman times to the late 18th century) set in the depths of an untamed forest. The rock, with its stunning tints and texture - it is the origin of Aix’s historical centre - lights up the forest with its flame coloured hues. Gold, amber and russet dance in the sun’s light. And each time of day has a special feel to it. From the searing midday rays to the soft whispers of twilight, the forest is alive with gleaming reflections. It was here, in the midst of this chaotic, luminous landscape, that Cezanne pitched his easel between 1895 and 1904, and where he applied himself, brush in hand, to uncovering the secret of the raw material. His own personal equation contained a surprising mixture; a collision of air and pigments... As the hours passed, he observed the versatility of the wildlife, enraptured by the colourful tricks of the light. His hand transformed the pine trees, oak trees and rocks which lay before him into centre.


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foto: Sophie Spireti